The Buffalo Bills have retooled their wide receiver group again this offseason, replacing some aging veterans with younger, more athletic players. While there are some new faces who should be expected to contribute this year, it’s not as if the Bills have a completely new wide receiver room. They retained three of the top five wideouts in last year’s rotation, a group that helped quarterback Josh Allen continue his meteoric rise towards being a top-flight passer in the NFL.
Sometimes, players are brought in at positions to help immediately, and other times players are added with an eye towards the future. There are even some scenarios where a team may add someone with both goals in mind.
In today’s edition of “90 players in 90 days,” we discuss one such player, a rookie wideout who is going to contribute on offense at some point—though not necessarily right away.
Name: Khalil Shakir
Height/Weight: 6’ 190 lbs
Age: 22 (23 on 2/3/2023)
Experience/Draft: R; selected in the fifth round (No. 148 overall) of the 2022 NFL Draft by Buffalo
College: Boise State
Acquired: Fifth-round draft choice
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Shakir’s four-year rookie deal is worth $4,007,148 overall. If he makes the roster this year, he’ll carry a cap hit of $791,787. If he is released or traded, just his $347,148 signing bonus will count on Buffalo’s cap this year.
2021 Recap: Shakir was named First-Team All-Mountain West for the second consecutive year, but his senior year was easily his best collegiate season. He caught 77 passes for 1,117 and seven touchdowns, averaging 93.1 yards per game. He also rushed 21 times for 130 yards, and he threw one pass, which was intercepted. Shakir also returned punts and kicks, albeit sparingly, as a senior. He managed three kickoff returns for 80 yards and nine punt returns for 115 yards. He finished his collegiate career with 208 receptions (good for fifth in school history) for 2,878 yards (fourth place) and 20 receiving touchdowns (tied for ninth place).
Positional outlook: Shakir joins a strong wide receiver room that includes Stefon Diggs, Gabriel Davis, Jamison Crowder, Isaiah McKenzie, Jake Kumerow, Tavon Austin, Marquez Stevenson, Tanner Gentry, Neil Pau’u, and Isaiah Hodgins.
2022 Offseason: Shakir is healthy and he is participating in OTAs.
2022 Season outlook: I have Shakir making the team and serving as WR5, playing mainly in the slot behind Crowder and McKenzie. Boise State used him in a similar manner to the way Buffalo has used McKenzie at times, with one notable exception: Shakir is a much better receiver overall than McKenzie. Buffalo doesn’t have to rush him along thanks to the strength of the group they have, but don’t be surprised if Shakir is seeing meaningful snaps by the midway point of the season. While much of the focus has been on a return man battle of McKenzie vs. Austin vs. Stevenson, Shakir has shown an ability to return kicks in college, so he is a dark horse candidate to fill that role, as well. Shakir is a good bet to have a random strong game towards the back half of the season, but he’s likely a developmental player in a limited role this year who will explode onto the scene in 2023. He has the potential to be a real problem for opposing defenses, and he adds elite speed and YAC ability to a Bills receiving corps that needed just that.